2018 Winners

Bonnie Bowler
YWCA Woman of the Year

The YWCA Women of the Year Award is presented to a woman whose professional and/or volunteer work supports, embodies and complements the YWCA Helena’s mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Bonnie Bowler supports, embodies and complements the YWCA mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Before she retired, Bonnie was a long-time Latin teacher at Helena and capital High Schools. She was a brilliant teacher who inspired many students. She was also a strong advocate for women’s sports.

In retirement, Bonnie has been a dedicated volunteer at the Montana Historical Society for 14 years and averages 200 hours per year.

Bonnie also provided nine years of leadership as a YWCA Executive Board member, serving as Chair of the Building Committee through a major renovation. She could always be counted on to volunteer for board events and to do whatever was needed to make them a success, including cleaning up.

What sets her apart from other dedicated board members is her hands-on volunteer work. Bonnie’s commitment to ensuring the YWCA is a safe, clean and inviting place for women and their children is boundless.

Bonnie spent hours cleaning out the building in preparation for renovation, and countless more moving furniture and bedding back in after the renovation was complete. She pitches in to do whatever needs done, including vacuuming, taking out the trash, raking leaves, pulling weeds, shoveling snow, cleaning the kitchen, etc.

Perhaps most important, Bonnie’s regular presence at the YWCA allowed her to become acquainted  with the residents and she serves as a role model and mentor to the women.

Bonnie’s extraordinary volunteer work has significantly contributed to the success of the YWCA and its mission. Congratulations Bonnie on being named as YWCA’s Woman of the Year!

Jena Sabatini
Salute’s Woman of Achievement Award

Award Criteria:  The Woman of Achievement Award is presented to a woman whose involvement and commitment to the Helena community works to improve the lives of women and girls which leads to social and economic empowerment.

Jena’s nominator wrote in part… 

Jena Sabatini earned a Hospitality and Tourism Management degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She worked in hospitality sales across the US before buying her first hotel in Wisconsin. Fortunately for Helena, Jena’s next purchase was a Hotel here, where she and her husband eventually moved when they acquired a third property.   Her passion for the outdoors and community made the move a natural fit.  Since coming to Helena, Jena has selflessly contributed and volunteered in our community. 

She has taken on and headed up many community service activities with countless organizations.  In fact, in 2008 Jena co-founded the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) with the goal of raising in excess of $300,000 annually to help grow Helena’s tourism economy. The TBID has grown to help revitalize Readers Alley and catapult Helena onto the national mountain biking scene. Most recently, Jena founded Fun Events which creates and promotes entertainment in Helena with the purpose of supporting charitable organizations. Fun Events currently has three annual events, Rally for the Cure Golf Tournament, Dueling Pianos and Bacon, Eggs and Kegs.  

Jena has the ability to give an event almost instant velocity.  For example, she started organizing the Rally for the Cure Golf Tournament three years ago and last year she successfully quadrupled the proceeds raised from the previous year and sold out the maximum number of participants allowed.  

She started Dueling Pianos six years ago with the event selling out each year and raising more money each year - the total raised to date is nearly $130,000.  

Jena has been awarded the 2007 Hospitality Hero for Helena Community and 2009 Helena Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year.  

Because of these efforts, Jena has the respect and gratitude of her peers here in Helena. She not only goes above and beyond giving 110% in her devotion to support others, but Jena puts FUN in Fundraising. Helena is lucky to have her!